What makes us human? How did the human mind evolve? What makes us different from other animals? Is it our language? Culture? Consciousness? Mind reading? In order to tackle these questions we need to investigate and understand how other animals behave, communicate and think. This course aims to give you an appreciation of the key similarities and differences between communication and social cognition in humans and other animals. This may challenge your preconceptions about what animals are capable of and further your understanding of what it means to be human.
Module learning outcomes
Describe how studying animals can help us investigate how the human mind evolved
Given an account of the strengths and weaknesses of methods for studying animal behaviour
Discuss how studies of natural communication and ape language projects can further our understanding of language evolution
Describe the weaknesses in our current understanding of animal communication
Give an account of how animals can learn from observing each other and evaluate the claim for animal culture
Discuss the evidence for Theory of Mind in great apes
Describe how we can test self-recognition in animals and discuss the evidence for this ability in non-humans
Give an account of where the most convincing similarities and differences lie between humans and other animals in terms of communication and social cognition
How can we study the animal mind and how can this help us understand human evolution?
Ape Language studies and a multimodal approach to communication
The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision.
These marks will be accompanied by module feedback forms which will be circulated by e-mail.
Students will meet supervisors in wk 6 in AuT, SpT and wk 9 in SuT to discuss their marks.
A brief overview of most of these topics can be found in:
Pearce, J. (2008) Animal Learning and Cognition, New York; Psychology Press (should be plenty in the library) Byrne, R. (1995). The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence. Oxford University Press.